Last week was a hectic one in Parliament, after a needlessly long summer break. There was much to catch up on – the state of the economy, the Euro crisis, the aftermath of the looting, the advances in Libya, the changes in the NHS and even a vote on abortion counselling.
I have been preoccupied by the difficulties local and businesses here and around the country have in raising money for their development. The banks tell us they are open to lend, but it does not feel like that for many smaller and medium sized enterprises. It is also a lot more difficult for someone to find a mortgage as a first time buyer, than in the heady days of too much credit prior to the Crash.
I have put proposals to the government about how they might respond to the Vickers Inquiry into the banks. I would like to see them create new banks that could compete on the High Street for personal and business customers, offering better service at lower rates and prices. They could do this out of the assets and liabilities they own from past nationalisations and share purchases, and could float these new banks off, raising more money for them to lend from the markets at the same time. It would give a welcome and much needed boost to our slowing economy.
I have also worked with Parliamentary colleagues to try to get the government to see that the UK needs a different relationship with the EU, now seventeen countries are embarking on much closer union to try to salvage the damaged Euro scheme. They need to control budgets, taxes and spending to reassure markets that the Euro area as a whole is well run. The UK does not want decisions about tax, spending and borrowing taken in Brussels. We need to opt out, but we also need to get some power back, given just how much of our government has been subcontracted to Brussels by recent Treaties.
Some of you have written to me about the planning policy changes. I have had a further meeting with the Planning Minister, who assures me that if Wokingham wishes to protect green areas from development it can now do so by putting these clearly into its local Plan. I urge the Council to take advantage. The new policy abolishes top down regional housebuilding targets, so the Council can decide based on local circumstances what is the right level of development.